I have a little problem with cleaning. A few months ago, a couple of friends gave me some good advice: spend fifteen minutes a day cleaning and the house will be in shape before guests arrive. I shortened it to five. Then things got a little out of control.
I liked the idea so much that my list of five-minute-a-day tasks would now take approximately 28 hours to complete. And no, I never even did the cleaning part.
Trying to be hyper-productive, useful, scheduled, and organized doesn’t really work for me. (The results are well and hilariously illustrated on Hyperbole and a Half.) I know people who are naturally this way, and surprisingly I like these people. But when my five-minute-a-day list starts to grow, I am likely trying to make myself OK by achieving all my goals right now. Which means, of course, that whatever I am now is not OK.
Albert Einstein supposedly said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” The extreme five-minute-a-day approach definitely stays at the same level; it reinforces the not-OK assumption and buys into the achievement myth big time.
Playing, relaxing, praying, and being grateful truly change my thinking. They don’t have much use for not OK because they’re pretty excited about how amazing and fun life is.
When I picture my fully-achieved life (cue background music of heavenly choirs), I feel content. I used to think content was a bad word because it meant stasis and complacency and sitting on the couch eating potato chips and watching endless TV, but maybe it’s just a change in thinking. Maybe it’s gratitude run rampant.
And maybe I should practice it now so that on that day when my kids happily inhabit my clean house and my novel is published to great acclaim, I won’t be taken too much by surprise.